CHWs Get Credit: A 10-Year History of the First College-Credit Certificate for Community Health Workers in the United States

Seq ID: 35
DocID: CA8
Authors: Love M, Legion V, Shim J, Tsai C, Quijano V, Davis C
Year: 2007
State: CA
Website link:
Publicly Available: Yes
Certification: CHW roles and scope of practice, Competencies
Evidence Generation: ROI and bundled payment successes/challenges
Policy: Building partnerships, MCO contract language and reimbursement models
Sustainable Financing: General

Community health workers have become increasingly important in the U.S. health care system, playing a significant
role in basic health promotion and care coordination;
however, their status and visibility have not kept pace with their wider use. A major impediment has been the absence of systematic preparation—the field needs standardized education in programs that emphasize the actual skills and knowledge used by community health workers, programs that attract and retain nontraditional students from underserved communities and that foster professional advancement. This article chronicles the 10-year history of the first college credit–
bearing community health worker certificate program in the country to address this need. Systematic research resulted in a program centered on the core competencies universally practiced by community health workers regardless of their topical focus. The certificate program combines performance-based methods with popular education into an innovative pedagogical approach that teaches skills, while solidifying, contextualizing, and enhancing crucial experiential knowledge. Program outcomes validate the approach.

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